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Graphene’s germanium cousin holds promise for energy-efficient electronics

Paul van Gerven
Leestijd: 2 minuten

Researchers from the University of Twente have proven that germanene, the germanium equivalent of graphene, behaves as a topological insulator. It’s the first 2D topological insulator that consists of a single element. It also has the unique ability to switch conduction ‘on’ and ‘off.’ This could lead to more energy-efficient electronics.

Topological insulators are materials with the unique property of insulating electricity in their interior while conducting electricity along their edges. The conductive edges allow electrical current to flow without energy loss. “At the moment, electronic devices lose a lot of energy in the form of heat because defects in the material increase the resistance. As a result, your mobile phone can get uncomfortably hot,” explains UT researcher Pantelis Bampoulis.

Due to the unique nature of topological insulators, scattering of electrons doesn’t occur and therefore electrical current in 2D topological insulators flows without dissipating energy. This makes them more energy-efficient than current electronic materials.

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